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Home > Fathers of the Church > Letters (St. Basil of Caesarea) > Letter 4

Letter 4

ST. BASIL OF CAESAREA

To Olympius.

What do you mean, my dear Sir, by evicting from our retreat my dear friend and nurse of philosophy, Poverty? Were she but gifted with speech, I take it you would have to appear as defendant in an action for unlawful ejectment. She might plead I chose to live with this man Basil, an admirer of Zeno, who, when he had lost everything in a shipwreck, cried, with great fortitude, 'well done, Fortune! You are reducing me to the old cloak;' a great admirer of Cleanthes, who by drawing water from the well got enough to live on and pay his tutors' fees as well; an immense admirer of Diogenes, who prided himself on requiring no more than was absolutely necessary, and flung away his bowl after he had learned from some lad to stoop down and drink from the hollow of his hand. In some such terms as these you might be chidden by my dear mate Poverty, whom your presents have driven from house and home. She might too add a threat; if I catch you here again, I shall show that what went before was Sicilian or Italian luxury: so I shall exactly requite you out of my own store.

But enough of this. I am very glad that you have already begun a course of medicine, and pray that you may be benefited by it. A condition of body fit for painless activity would well become so pious a soul.

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Source. Translated by Blomfield Jackson. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 8. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1895.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3202004.htm>.

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